An alarming number of bodybuilders and athletes scoff at the dangers of using steroids to increase muscle mass, strength, or physical endurance.
Anabolic steroids are similar to testosterone, a hormone. Synthetic steroids (and hormones) do have physical effects on the body.
Some of those are positive such as muscle growth, potentially increase strength, and higher levels of energy.
However, it is for these very reasons that anabolic steroids are commonly misused and abused by athletes.
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An anabolic or anabolic-androgenic steroid, which is the more proper use of the word, is a synthetically created variation of testosterone.
Testosterone is a male hormone that provides men with secondary sex male characteristics.
It has a huge influence over libido and sexual performance, a leaner muscle to fat ratio than women, and bigger muscles.
Anabolic steroids are known commonly as droids or stackers.
They’re often referred to as stackers because they’re often combined, “stacked”, or taken with other drugs in a routine during cutting and bulking phases of bodybuilding.
When most people refer to steroid side effects, they’re talking about the side effects associated with injected steroids such as testosterone.
When used appropriately and under the guidance and oversight of a physician, anabolic steroids do provide a number of benefits.
They are often used in the treatment of a number of disease processes including cachexia, or muscle loss associated with AIDS and cancer patients.
Everyone has heard of “roid rage” but no one wants to think it can happen to them.
The same applies to the potential side effects of anabolic steroids. What are the most common steroids side effects?
It has been determined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that athletes and bodybuilders often inject 10 to 100 times more than recommended in dosages used in medical treatments.
Such high doses contribute to a much higher potential of side effects than taking the medically recommended steroid dosages of drugs such as prednisone, cortisone or corticosteroids.
Injecting anabolic steroids such as those similar to testosterone into the body for physical enhancement efforts can cause emotional, mental and physical side effects.
Emotional/mental: Erratic mood swings, irrational behaviors and increased aggressiveness.
Anabolic steroids don’t have a direct effect on brain function, but do have an influence on the synthesis of dopamine in the brain (in animal studies).
There has been some scientific exploration regarding the associative link between steroids and dopamine in Parkinson’s patients, and its possible influence over some mental and central nervous system disorders.
Long-term use, misuse, and abuse of steroids can have a detrimental influence on brain chemicals and pathways including the synthesis and function of serotonin and dopamine, which have a huge impact on emotional and mental health and wellness.
Some of the most common short-term steroid side effects can include sensations of paranoia, excessive irritability based on circumstances, and delusional behaviors followed by impaired judgment.
In some cases, these are the same type of symptoms often associated with latter stages of dementia. You still want to inject steroids?
Physical: Mild to moderate side effects of anabolic steroid use can contribute to acne or worsening acne conditions and an increase in body hair. More severe side effects include potential liver damage.
Steroid side effects impact men, women, and teenagers in different ways. None of them good. In teens, use of steroids in any form can contribute to stunted growth.
In men, adverse effects can include decreased testicle size. Because the body senses adequate levels of testosterone, the testes quit manufacturing the hormone.
Non-use equates to decline in size or atrophy. Men may experience a decreased sperm count, reduced sex drive, an increased risk for developing prostate cancer, as well as the risk of gynecomastia or enlarged breasts.
In women, anabolic steroid side effects can include accelerated growth of hair on their body and on their faces.
Male pattern baldness, alterations or cessation of menstrual cycles, and a deepening voice and enlarged clitoris are also common.
There is no doubt that many of the physical side effects of steroid misuse and abuse can contribute to emotional and mental side effects and disorders.
It’s not just physical and emotional/mental side effects that steroid users have to worry about.
Just a few years ago, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration found bacteria and fungus in vials of a commonly smuggled form of steroid called methylprednisolone acetate (MPA), resulting in inflammation of the skin and soft tissues at the injection site.
While this reaction seems minor in regard to side effects, the risks of receiving steroid injectable contaminated with bacteria manufactured in less than sterile conditions from foreign countries increases the dangers of steroid injection side effects.
While use of steroids is certainly tempting for many athletes, always be aware of the potential for steroid side effects.
If you notice any adverse reactions, stop taking the drug immediately and seek attention and guidance.